Overcoming Addictions, a web-based application, & SMART Recovery: Outcomes of a
randomized clinical trial
My research staff and I recently published the early outcomes of a new web app, Overcoming Addictions in the Journal of Medical Internet Research (http://www.jmir.org/2013/7/e134). Overcoming Addictions (OA, www.overcomingaddictions.net) is an abstinence-oriented, cognitive behavioral program based on the protocol of SMART Recovery. SMART Recovery (www.smartrecovery.org) is an organization that has adapted empirically supported treatment strategies for use in a mutual help framework with in-person meetings, online meetings, a forum and other resources.
A firm believer of “In God we trust, everyone else has to show their data,” we evaluated the effectiveness of OA and SMART Recovery (SR) with problem drinkers in a randomized clinical trial. We recruited 189 heavy problem drinkers primarily through SMART Recovery’s web site and their online and in-person meetings. We randomly assigned them to: (1) OA alone, (2) OA+ attend SMART Recovery meetings (OA +SR), or to (3) attend SMART Recovery meetings (SR) only. Outcome measures included self-reported percent days abstinent, mean drinks per day when they did drink , and alcohol/drug related consequences. We also interviewed significant others to corroborate the participant’s self-report.
We predicted that: (1) All groups would reduce their drinking and alcohol/drug related consequences at follow-up compared to their baseline levels; (2) the OA groups would reduce their drinking and alcohol/drug related consequences more than the control group (SR).
There were several striking features of our participants. First, 60% of them were female. While this is consistent with the clinical trials of our other web applications like the Drinker’s Check-up (www.drinkerscheckup.com) and Moderate Drinking (www.moderatedrinking.com), it is significantly more than what one would predict given the prevalence of problem drinking in women versus men (35 vs. 65% respectively) in the epidemiological data. Second, this was a highly educated group with an average of 16 years of education. Third, while these folks were not seeking formal treatment, they had a level of alcohol problems comparable to the outpatient arm of Project MATCH.
At the 3 month follow-up both the intent-to-treat analyses and the actual use analyses showed highly significant improvement from baseline to follow-ups. Mean within-subject effect sizes were large (d > .8) overall. There were, however, no significant differences between groups. Participants in all groups significantly increased their percent days abstinent from 44% to 72% (P<.001), decreased their mean drinks per drinking day from 8.0 to 4.6 (P<.001), and decreased their alcohol/drug-related problems (P<.001) by about 50%. These are clinically meaningful improvements in outcomes.
These outcomes indicate that both our Overcoming Addictions web app and attending SMART Recovery meetings and using their resources online (www.smartrecovery.org) were effective in helping people recover from their problem drinking.
These graphs reflect outcomes of the actual use analyses.